I literally had no idea what to expect when I started up Creat Studios/Tik Games’ Interpol: The Trail of Dr. Chaos last week. I knew there was an Xbox 360 version but I hadn’t played it, and to be honest I’d never played any game of this genre since a brief look at the Where’s Wally books in Waterstones one day. On the face of it, scanning around a mostly static image looking for hidden objects doesn’t sound like a lot of fun and I was fully prepared to be bored within 5 minutes of starting the game. As it transpired, both myself and the better half were transfixed, jumping around and leaving fingerprints all over the screen as we desperately tried to find the ridiculously cleverly concealed items as we made our virtual trip around the globe looking for the eponymous Dr. Chaos.
The story doesn’t matter much, it’s conveyed via rather dull intermission screens and bears little resemblance to what’s actually happening in the meat of the game. Instead, we’ll break it down for you: in each of the game’s around the world locations, you can choose from a multiple of sub areas (for example: San Francisco has the wharf, a tram and Lombard Street) and within a total of 30 minutes you’re charged with moving the cursor around (via the Dual Shock’s analog stick or a mouse) trying to click on objects that are listed in a small window at the top of the screen. This window shows the name of any objects left to locate and via the magic of your own eyes and the square button (to zoom) you’ve got to find them.
Wildly clicking on everything doesn’t work, because your time will be deducted for incorrect guesses and because each time you play through the game for a high score (or rather, a low time) the objects differ which gives you almost limitless replayability. So, you really do have to look hard and some of the objects during the main game’s story mode were almost invisible to me at first – thankfully you can leave a sub location and come back to it later if you’re still within your thirty minute deadline. The artwork used for the different areas is actually really good, but although the developers are claiming the visuals are in ‘high definition’ I got the distinct impression they were upscaled from lower resolution artwork.
Still, it doesn’t really matter unless you’re sat 3 feet from the screen and the four player co-operative is certainly a blast if you’re really working together. I only tried the local option, but apparently there’s an online mode via the PlayStation Store too if you’re short of a few friends nearby. The game has a large amount of Trophies, there’s a hint mode if you’re stuck and the online leaderboards will no doubt see plenty of action for those dedicated enough to know where every object in every scenario is hidden. It’s certainly a unique game on the PlayStation 3 and as far as I can tell competent enough for fans of the genre, but then I’m not an expert on this sort of game at all. All I do know is that it’s damned good fun and rather addictive, which will hopefully be enough to convince you to take a punt.
Graphics: Practically static screens, almost certainly upscaled, but full of character and the art itself is often rather good : 5/10
Sound: The music’s the expected spy-esque background stuff, but you can play your own which is a nice touch: 4/10
Gameplay: Hidden object games are one of the most basic game types on the planet, but this amongst the best of them: 5/10
Overall: Fans of the genre will love what’s on offer here – leaderboards, multiplayer, it’s all present and correct. The rest of us will be left scratching our heads.